In winter, shorter days and cold weather can make staying healthy a challenge. Going out into the cold to exercise may give way to spending time snuggled up on the couch. The additional time spent indoors also means tendencies to snack more.
The combination of a less healthy diet and a lack of exercise can weaken the immune system, posing more risk of illness. Here are some tips to stay healthy and beat the winter blues.
Don’t give in to your carb cravings
In winter, your craving for comfort foods is stronger. When you consume carbs, your serotonin levels rise and you feel happier. The problem is that this starts a vicious cycle and when your sugar levels crash, you crave more to feel good again. Too much white sugar and flour contributes to weight gain and can affect your immune system.
Eating a protein-packed breakfast can keep your energy levels up and prevent you from craving carbs. If you start craving sweets or carbs later on in the day, keep some healthy snacks on hand. Eating an orange will help reduce your craving for some sweetness.
Do an indoor workout
You need to continue your exercise routine throughout winter if you want to decrease stress, stay fit, boost your immune system and keep your weight under control.
If you have no desire to head outdoors for some exercise, never fear. It is easy to exercise within the comfort of your own living room. If you have exercise equipment at home, doing a 45-minute workout three or more times a week shouldn’t be a problem.
Invest in an indoor bike trainer and you’re able to simulate the outdoor riding experience without risking life and limb by riding outside in nasty weather.
If you don’t have exercise equipment, there are many videos on YouTube that offer Pilates, Yoga and other exercise instruction.
Choose foods that boost your immune function
There are many different foods and spices that can help to boost your immune function at a time when you’re more subject to developing colds and flu.
Garlic, onions, turmeric and ginger make food taste great but they also improve immune system function. Turmeric, for example, contains an ingredient called curcumin that gives curry its yellow color but also acts as a powerful antioxidant and helps to combat inflammation. Garlic is another great immune booster that can kill off several types of viruses and bacteria.
Try to incorporate dark green and orange vegetables and fruits into your diet. Kale, spinach, oranges, carrots and squash all provide healthy nutrients. The vitamin C found in foods such as oranges and broccoli is one of the most powerful immune-boosting vitamins.
The soluble fiber found in nuts, oats and apples is another important way to boost your immune system and decrease inflammation.
Mushrooms contain natural antibiotics that can help to fight off illness.
Studies have shown that the omega 3 fatty acids found in foods like fish, nuts and plant seeds can help to lower levels of depression, which people often feel during winter.
Other simple steps that can make a difference
Don’t forget to wash your hands! It may seem like a simple step but it is one of the most effective ways of killing germs that have been passed on to you.
In winter, you may not feel so much like drinking water. Opting for a herbal tea can offer antioxidant benefits and make sure you’re drinking enough water.
If you continue to exercise and eat healthily, you can help your immune system to function properly and stay healthy and strong all winter.